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How Important Are Exclusive Games?

Feb 21, 2008
We are now in the midst of another installment in what seems to be a never-ending cycle of console wars, one in which Sony's Playstation 3 is pitted against Microsoft's Xbox 360 (the Nintendo Wii is not officially part of the battle, as Nintendo themselves has stated they do not consider their console to be a "net-gen" machine).

In the past, consumers would often base their purchase of a new video game system on what exclusive games were available for each respective system. For instance, if you wanted to play a Final Fantasy game in the late nineties, you needed to buy an original Playstation. Those games simply weren't available on any other home console. In a larger sense, it seemed as if a consoles personality was defined partly by what exclusive games it offered.

In the current generation, though, it seems as if we are seeing fewer and fewer exclusive games as video game publishers realize that they can generate more revenue selling their games across multiple platforms instead of sticking with just one system. Games such as Madden 2008 and Assassin's Creed have sold incredibly well for both the Playstation 3 and the Xbox 360 while previously exclusive franchises such as Devil May Cry and Grand Theft Auto will now be available on both next-gen systems for the first time. And there's no disputing the $1.4 billion in 3rd quarter revenue reported by Activision, driven largely by its multi-platform titles Guitar Hero III and Call of Duty 4.

So, are we seeing the end of the exclusive game? The short answer is no. While less common, the exclusive game still plays a prominent role in the video game landscape. For instance, the release of Halo 3 for the Xbox 360 set sales records across the board when it was released while Bioshock won rave reviews from video game critics everywhere. And while one of the main criticisms of the Playstation 3 in its first year of existence was the lack of killer exclusive titles, games like Resistance: Fall of Man, Uncharted: Drake's Fortune and Ratchet and Clank: Future have provided Playstation 3 owners something to brag about. And with Medal Gear Solid 4 and Final Fantasy XIII somewhere on the horizon, it is apparent that Sony will continue to benefit from the exclusive games on their system.

But have the systems lost some of their personality with the release of fewer exclusive games? Probably to some extent, but the current generation of consoles now offer more than just standard gaming. The Playstation 3 performs double-duty as a Blu-ray player while the Xbox 360 offers a robust online community, so it seems that what has been lost with the declining number of exclusive games has been made up with the additional features and functionality that the current generation of video game consoles now offer and that sets them apart from each other.

And in the end it's the consumer who wins, because even if you have only one of the next-generation consoles you'll still have access to most of the best games being produced today.
About the Author
J. Fury likes to write about all sorts of things and sell geek t-shirts at the Geek Bouteek.
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